On September 8, 2019 U.S. President Donald Trump suspended the talks between the U.S. and the Afghan Taliban movement, following a September 5 suicide bombing perpetrated by the Taliban in the capital, Kabul, in which a U.S. soldier, a Romanian soldier and at least 10 local civilians were killed. In his announcement Trump disclosed that the Afghan delegation had been on its way to the U.S. for a meeting with him at Camp David, at which an agreement was to be finalized.At present it is unclear whether negotiations will resume; U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the U.S. is still interested in a peace deal with the Taliban, but not before the Taliban demonstrates that it can deliver on its commitments under a potential agreement.
The U.S.-Taliban negotiations, which were taking place in Doha, Qatar, were the topic of a September 1 editorial by the London-based online daily Rai Al-Yawm. The editorial stated that the U.S., recognizing its defeat and wanting a withdrawal from Afghanistan at any cost, is the weak side in the talks, whereas the Taliban has emerged as a strong and unbending rival able to reject the American demands. The daily therefore assessed that the Taliban's Islamic emirate in Afghanistan is likely to reemerge.
The following is a translation of the editorial.
Taliban representatives at the Doha talks (source: Raialyoum.com, September 1, 2019)
"The 18th round of talks between the Taliban movement and the U.S. in Doha ended without the issuance of a concluding statement confirming that an agreement had been attained. The U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, sufficed with mentioning that an agreement had been drafted and that encouraging progress had been made. Leaks regarding this 'encouraging progress' and its details are still few, but the most prominent point [that has reportedly been discussed] involves a gradual U.S. withdrawal over an 18-month period, during which the 14,000 U.S. troops will [all] return to the U.S., as an implementation of President Trump's policy. The Taliban movement has not yet disclosed the concessions the U.S. is demanding, which [are known to] include only a full ceasefire, the launching of negotiations [between the Taliban] and the government of [Afghan President] Ashraf Ghani in Kabul, and the provision of binding guarantees that Afghanistan will not become a launch pad for attacks by extremist organizations such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS inside U.S. territory.
"The absence of a written document on negotiations to be held between the Taliban and the Ashraf Ghani government in Kabul means that the U.S. has abandoned the latter, and perhaps has even accepted the Taliban's chief demand, involving the reestablishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which the Taliban founded and which was toppled during the U.S. invasion in October 2001, following the 9/11 attacks.
"The absence of U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton from [the negotiations] over the Afghanistan issue, and his exclusion from the meeting at Trump's New Jersey resort, which was chaired by Trump and attended by the [U.S.] secretaries of state and defense, the vice president, and the director of the CIA, reflects the extent of the American administration's weakness on the Afghan issue and its willingness to withdraw [from Afghanistan] at any cost. [Bolton's exclusion is due to] his firm objection to the withdrawal of the U.S. troops.
"The Taliban is unlikely to succumb to all the American demands, chief of them [the demand] that it hold negotiations with the Ghani government. Nor will it risk coming out against the armed groups that use Afghanistan as a launch pad for attacks on the U.S. and its interests... or a war with the Balochistan isolationist movement. Perhaps this is the reason that no agreement was announced following the [latest] round of talks in Doha, on September 1.
"The Taliban displayed excellent negotiation abilities, on a par with the U.S. and its representatives. It forced itself [on the U.S. as a partner for negotiations] after 18 years of brutal resistance that cost the U.S. nearly $2 trillion and 3,000 fatalities. The Taliban's Islamic Emirate is coming back with a vengeance, with or without an agreement with the Trump administration – and this for the simple reason that the U.S. has admitted defeat and wants [only] to minimize its losses."